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Headphones / Headsets

Headphones Buyers Guide
Introduction: With the popularity of portable devices ...
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Headphones Buyers Guide


With the popularity of portable devices rising exponentially there is a huge market for all types of headphones, and just like any audio type product not all are created equal. Of course not all headphones out there are just for portable devices either, but they do make up a majority of the market segment.

The term headphones though in the context here at Teskfreaks is more than just your standard style headset, Testfreaks Headphones category encompasses all types of headsets, including but not limited to bluetooth styles for cellphones, wireless, and even gaming style headsets.

I personally have several types of headphones and most anyone these days will also have numerous types and styles of headsets floating around for their various devices and possibly even for their computer to use while gaming. The type and style of headset that you'll want to purchase entirely depends on your own preferences and or needs really, everyone is different, not only in their physical makeup but what is comfortable for them. I personally have different preferences depending on what my use at the time is, for instance with my MP3 player I prefer the in-ear style of headset because they are very portable and they somewhat help to cancel out background noise, but for gaming at my computer I prefer a regular full sized set of headphones, so depending on your own style or preferences is what you'll need to be looking to purchase.

Even though there are many brands and styles of headsets or headphones on the market today, when looking to purchase, there are a few common denominators that should be taken into consideration:

Sound Quality:
Sound quality of a headset or pair of headphones is the number one factor when purchasing any audio device like headphones, at least it is to me, some people are more than happy with a cheap pair of headphones, but I think most people out there prefer good sound, especially for their music. Why buy an expensive mp3 player only to use a cheap set of headphones with it, you could have just bought a cheap mp3 player to begin with.

Style of Headphones:
The style of headphones you choose will be determined by a number of factors really, but the main deciding factor should be your own comfort.

-Over the ear style of headsets or the cup type are the style that basically enclose your entire ear, these are usually very large and padded quite a bit for comfort. This style is very popular with high end audiophiles and gamers actually, where you do not want outside noise bothering you.

-In-ear headsets are the type the go into your ear, these come in a couple styles as well really, they can be ear buds where they fit into the outer portion of the ear and don't really enter the ear canal, while actual in-ear headsets are inserted into the ear canal to essentially direct the sound directly to your ear. The in-ear style work very well as blocking out sounds which can be a good and a bad thing depending on what you're doing, blocking out background noise is nice, but when it becomes a potential hazard like a car beeping at you before it hits you isn't so nice.

-Ear pads styles of headsets were one of the first popular styles, these are usually a small foam pad covering a speaker that fits over the outer portion of the ear, they are usually held in place by a metal spring type band that goes across the top of the head. In the last few years though the neckband style of headset has become fairly popular were the band goes across the neck instead of the head, both styles have their pros and cons.

All of these styles I've mentioned have both good and bad points for everyone, one point to be taken into consideration is if you wear glasses or not. I've found that not all headsets are comfortable while wearing glasses, I've gotten feedback from many people telling me that while a headset is very nice and comfortable it isn't at all for someone who wears glasses. The only way to really find out about this fact is through reviews and just talking to other people about a certain headset that you might be interested in purchasing.

Wired or Wireless types:
Another small thing to consider is if you require the freedom that comes with a wireless type of headset, some people just don't like having to deal with wires so they prefer wireless for their headsets. One thing that people often overlook when purchasing wired style headsets is the cord length, always make sure you get a headset that has along enough cord for what your needs are. If you're buying a headset specifically for gaming then this really becomes a factor as often times our PCs are kept under our desk or farther away than something like an mp3 player might be. Wireless headphones can come in either RF (Radio Frequency) or the Bluetooth varieties as well, with Bluetooth becoming much more common actually, the type you choose will depend on the capabilities of you device or computer, and of course on your own personal preferences as well.

Combination Headsets:
Do you need a microphone attached to your headset? There are options for you if you do, especially for gamers where many times you can talk to other players or team mates while in game. Here of course you'll most likely want to make sure the included microphone is of decent quality and maybe you need a feature like noise cancellation/isolation if you intend to use the microphone in a noisy area. These types of headset can be used in an office setting to answer phone calls, or just on your home PC as well to make calls using a VOIP program, as with any phone type device you'll want to make sure the other person can hear you clearly.

Thoughts about Bluetooth Cellphone headsets:
Since cellphones are extremely popular headsets specifically for them have also enjoyed an increased popularity especially within areas that have outlawed driving and talking. When you're looking for a bluetooth headset there are a couple important features that you should keep in mind:

-Comfort is the number one important factor, read reviews and talk to people to see which headset is rated the most comfortable. Many Bluetooth headsets have a system that uses an over the ear rubber band type fastener to hold the Bluetooth headset on your ear, personally I do not like these types as I find they are not comfortable for long periods of use, I've got a BT headset that fits in the ear and is very comfortable. The ear loop is also not good for those that wear glasses so that is another consideration when making a purchase.

-Included features are something that you'll also want to look at, some BT headsets have advanced noise canceling functions built into them and some don't, and even those that do have the feature will have varying degrees of actual usefulness between manufacturers. Some BT headsets also might include a windscreen or windshield as well to further help block out noise specifically wind blowing over the microphone while walking outside or driving with the windows down.

Included Parts:
This is one thing that is overlooked quite a bit by people buying headphones of headsets and this more applies to the ear bud types, but only some companies include extra sets of ear bud pads with their headsets, so basically if you lose a pad or bud you have a very uncomfortable set of in-ear headphones. Most higher end headsets and ear buds will include extra parts and some even include different sizes so you can find one that is comfortable for your ears. Another parts that only some companies include is an extension for the wired types of headphones, it's nice to be able to extend the length of the cord if need be and not have to go and buy a separate extension cable.

Where you intend on using your headphones or headset is another small factor, some headsets when turned up will allow people to hear your music or conversation and some people just might find that offending or rude, I personally don't want people overhearing my conversations.

As with purchasing any product be sure to research what you intend to buy though reviews, forums and of course just talking to other people can give you valuable insight into any product you intend on purchasing.


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